NDS partners are rock solid

By Robin Schreier Hohman, Network World |  Software

Directory services

You could have the best product in the world, but without any backers, it's pretty much useless. That's why Novell has been so busy picking up partners to support Novell Directory Services (NDS). Fortunately, the company's partnerships with key network vendors are on track, meaning network executives should be able to implement

NDS-enabled policy-based applications by year-end.

So far, Novell has signed with Lucent, Nortel Networks, Cabletron, IBM, Oblix and a host of other smaller companies. While some of the vendors, such as Lucent, have agreed to license NDS -- which means the company will ship a version of the directory with its NDS-enabled switches -- other companies are simply modifying their devices to work with the directory.

The big holdout has been Cisco, which has had an exclusive agreement to license Microsoft's Active Directory Services for more than two years. Even though ADS isn't expected to ship until the fall, Cisco has said it will still not license NDS. However, Cisco is working on switches, routers and other products that will integrate with NDS, according to Jim Turner, senior manager for network management partnerships and standards at Cisco. Roughly translated, that means he's the guy who's managing Cisco's directory-enabled networking for enterprise customers.

Turner and some industry analysts claim that actually licensing NDS isn't necessary for Cisco to support the directory.

"I would like to see Cisco network services for NDS as well as Cisco network services for Active Directory," says Jamie Lewis, president of The Burton Group. He says he doesn't care how Cisco actually does it. "If they license it, fine. If they don't license it and just write to it, fine," he says.

Without a doubt, Cisco's failure to spell out its position on NDS until recently has left the door wide open for competitors to grab the spotlight.

Lucent eyes integration

Lucent was the first big network vendor to sign on for NDS. The company is taking a more far-reaching approach with Novell, actually licensing NDS so that Lucent can get down into the deepest layer of code for optimal integration.

"The general thrust is to incorporate directory capabilities into a number of our products," says Paul Parker-Johnson, product line manager at Lucent's LAN Systems Group for policy-based networking and network management.

So far, Lucent has agreed to integrate NDS with several products. The first, which is going into beta now and will ship in the fall, is called RealNet Rules.

RealNet Rules is a policy server that employs a graphical user interface to apply quality of service (QoS) and security policies to people culled from the NDS directory server. The rules are stored in the NDS directory server.

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